Until recently, I was kind of an oddity. A Vita owner who never played Gravity Rush, Sony's darling new IP on the system. It just came out at the wrong time for me. I was busy with other stuff and by the time I was ready to play it, it had already been eclipsed by newer games. Now that the game has been remastered and released on the PS4, I finally decided to give it a shot.
Am I glad I did. It feels like a game from a couple of console generations ago in all the best ways.
Gravity Rush gives you a ton of freedom in movement. By the simple press of the R2 button, you start floating in the air, then you're able to change the direction of gravity as you see fit. Thanks to this innovative control scheme, you're able to explore environments inside out, with collectibles hidden under and over the entire city.
Yes, the game has a collectathon aspect! Isn't that great? You can collect Precious Gems scattered around by exploring the city or by completing certain tasks (timed missions). I was just climbing a set of stairs where a couple of precious gems were hidden early on when a thought crossed my mind.
"Oh my god, I feel like I'm playing Mario Sunshine all over again!"
I was only 8 when Super Mario Sunshine came out. Having a game capture that aspect of childlike wonder while running around is a great thing indeed. Falling around in Hekseville, exploring the bizarre landscape while collecting doodads and meeting strange townsfolk is simple and clean fun.
I Miss Mascots
Can I just gush over Kat's design for a second? It's fantastic. It's not cluttered or over-designed, instead having a simple, coherent aesthetic. She's simply a girl in a black outfit decorated with tree branch-like yellow ornaments. Her scarf and long hair allow the player to notice the direction of "actual gravity" at any time, a nice touch that not only looks good but can also help figure out where you stand compared to the world.
A clean, good looking yet distinctive and creative main character? It's almost like Kat is Sony's years late entry to the Mascot Platformer Hero ranks mostly known for big names like Mario, Sonic and Bubsy. Sure, Sony platforms already had Crash and Ratchet & Clank during the 5th and 6th console generations, but both were third parties titles... And since then it seems mascots have fallen out of style. The big developers seem to have taken a group approach for younger audiences instead of creating new mascots that stand on their own. The Skylanders. Squidlings. Deformed versions of Disney characters. It's a shame really.
Another thing that makes Kat similar to the mascots of yore is her very own 'tude. She's very expressive, especially during the comic-style cutscenes. What she says and think are not always one and the same, but thankfully the game allows you to read her real thoughts about some of the quirky NPCs of the world. This contrast adds a really nice touch of humor to the game and makes Kat that much more endearing and relatable, like the mascots that I used to know.
And Sonic sez that's pretty good.
Pure Personality per Pixel
The game's not perfect by any means. Despite a very good remaster job by Bluepoint, Gravity Rush's origin as a handheld game is easy to see (especially with NPC models). The combat is also flawed, with gravity kicks being way too strong for the rest of the moveset's good.
Yet, there's something incredibly charming about this game. For the little flaws here and there, there's a genuine aspect to the game that I haven't felt in a while. Plus, like Wind Waker did back in the day, the use of a cell-shaded artstyle really helps hiding some of the blemishes of the game. Cell shading? More like yes shading. Wait no that's terrible.
Basically, Gravity Rush is unique, creative and fun. I'm really glad it exists. In an industry where creativity isn't often encouraged, I'd love that kind of riskier IP to flourish. I hope one day characters like Kat will sit alongside Nathan Drake in terms of exposure, even if only for a little while.
Maybe then we could get a new kart racer, Sony. Think about it.